What are your thoughts on eating hot soup in the summertime? I know some people stay away from soup when the weather gets hot, but I actually don't have a seasonal preference for soup. Frankly, I don't eat soup that often, no matter what season it is. I generally only make soup when I come across a recipe that I can't resist - this one is a perfect example. I found this recipe in The Accidental Vegetarian and tagged it immediately. I've had it in the back of my mind for weeks, but today was the first time that I had beets in the fridge and time to try a new recipe. This soup combines roasted beets with coconut milk, cumin, lemongrass, garlic, chiles, and ginger - I've never combined beets with those ingredients before, but the idea appealed to me right away. The beets work beautifully here, contributing a nice earthy note to the otherwise Asian-inspired soup. The beets also contribute their color, turning this soup a shocking magenta color, which is a little weird, but mostly awesome. In spite of the kooky color, the soup is actually quite elegant - the flavors blend well and if you go through the trouble of sieving the soup, the texture is silky smooth. It is spicy though, so reduce the chiles if you are sensitive to heat. I'm really glad I finally got to make this recipe. It's such a fun new way to use beets - definitely a soup worth trying in any season.
Beet and coconut soup
Adapted from The Accidental Vegetarian
Don't skip the garnishes here. They add a lot of flavor and are a nice cooling contrast to the spicy soup.
1 lb. fresh beets, washed with stem ends cut to 1 inch
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed and inner part cut into 1 inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 red chiles (I used super chiles), seeded if you want to cut down the heat
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into a few chunks (I used a mixture of ginger and galangal)
2 tbs fresh lime juice
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
Fresh mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and chopped, seeded cucumber to garnish
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place beets in a baking dish and add enough water to cover the bottom. Tightly cover the dish with foil and roast beets in the preheated oven until they can be easily pierced with a knife. This will take 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When beets are tender, remove them from the oven and let cool. When beets are cool, cut off the stem and root end and rub off the skins. Roughly chop beets.
In a food processor or mini chopper, process the lemongrass, garlic, chiles, ginger, and lime juice until ingredients are finely chopped. Process to a paste if possible; if not, finely chopped is fine (my chopper was not able to make this into a paste).
Heat a splash of oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cumin and cook for about 3 minutes, until shallots begin to soften. Add half of the lemongrass paste and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of the beets and cook for 2 more minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, and simmer mixture for 7-8 minutes.
Just before serving, combine contents of pot with the coconut milk, remaining lemongrass paste, and remaining beets. Use an immersion blender (or transfer mixture to a regular blender) to puree soup until it is as smooth as possible. Take a look at the texture of the soup - if some solid pieces remain and you want it to be smoother, pass it through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (I sieved my soup, since my blender could not puree it as smooth as I wanted). Reheat soup if necessary, and season to taste with salt. Garnish with chopped cucumber, mint, and cilantro, and serve.
Leftover soup should be fine stored in the fridge for a day or two, although it may lose its pink color and turn more brownish.